Title: Girl in Snow
Author: Tanya Kukafka
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publish Date: August 1st, 2017
Genres: Adult, Thriller, Mystery
WHO ARE YOU WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING?
When a beloved high schooler named Lucinda Hayes is found murdered, no one in her sleepy Colorado suburb is untouched—not the boy who loved her too much; not the girl who wanted her perfect life; not the officer assigned to investigate her murder. In the aftermath of the tragedy, these three indelible characters—Cameron, Jade, and Russ—must each confront their darkest secrets in an effort to find solace, the truth, or both. In crystalline prose, Danya Kukafka offers a brilliant exploration of identity and of the razor-sharp line between love and obsession, between watching and seeing, between truth and memory.
Compulsively readable and powerfully moving, Girl in Snow offers an unforgettable reading experience and introduces a singular new talent in Danya Kukafka.
I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I love me a Gone Girl-esque thriller in which the solution is buried beneath a tangled web of secrets, lies, and unanswered questions. I get an even bigger kick out of trying to figure out the solution, despite my terrible track record with respect to accuracy. STILL, it’s exciting to see how horribly incorrect my entirely plausible predictions are.
My primary complaint with Girl in Snow was the convoluted conclusion, which presented a minor, relatively unmentioned character as the mysterious, unidentified aggressor. Based upon the occasional, one sentence references to this character that would crop up approximately every 75 pages, I would’ve never associated him with the crime. He was merely a nondescript bystander with zero description, characterization, or character development, and he struck me as merely a filler character. While obscurity in thrillers can be a good thing, it didn’t work in this novel’s favor. There was too little reference to this character throughout the book, and an incredibly weak explanation of his motives and rationale for committing the crime was presented within the last twenty pages of the book. He was mentioned considerably more frequently in those last twenty pages than in the preceding 350 pages collectively. That being said, he made for an implausible criminal with a nonexistent backstory and a questionable, hole-riddled motive. It wasn’t exactly the exciting, firework laden ending that I was anticipating.
I was taken aback by the prevalence of adolescent angst rather than more mature themes that I would expect from novels marketed to adult audiences. Two of the three narrators were high school students, and they contributed more of a coming of age aspect to the novel that was reminiscent of the young adult genre. While they dealt with issues such as grief and loss, they also battled with a subset of stereotypical teenage insecurities and issues associated with beginning high school and finding a niche. Needless to say, reading from the perspective of a thirteen-year-old presented an undesirable dichotomy between the adult novel I was expecting and the seemingly young adult narrative with which I was presented.
I was further misled in my belief that this would be a fast-paced, plot-driven book with an abundance of exciting twists and turns to throw off readers. It was quite the opposite, instead reflecting heavily on each of the narrators and their personal mental and physical challenges as they struggled to comprehend what had transpired. Character-driven, contemporary reminiscent novels bore me to tears, and this one had a particularly depressing tone as each of the characters elected to wallow in self pity and utter despair for the entirety of the book. I’m not an emotional person, and I consequently don’t enjoy or have an appreciation for emotion laden reads. I much prefer action driven novels in which the characters put aside their emotions to focus on tackling the issues at hand.
Girl in Snow, unfortunately, was severely lacking a premise, and a very minimal component of the novel actually centered around Lucinda’s death. I thought her untimely demise was supposed to be the central focus of the book??? References to the ongoing investigation into her murder were scarce, and her storyline was readily abandoned in favor of the confused, emotional reactions of each of the narrators. For a small town, it’s inhabitants seemed incredibly nonchalant about a cold-blooded murder, and there seemed to be no incentive to identify the killer.
I adored Kukafka’s writing style – it flowed seamlessly from one scene to the next and possessed an excellent balance between dialogue and description-heavy paragraphs. Furthermore, she excellently sewed together multiple intertwining narratives. I’m generally not a huge fan of books that are told from multiple perspectives, but in this case, they enhanced rather than detracted from the book. Each narrator had a distinct, unique voice which eliminated confusion, and their stories were expertly intertwined, conveying the same events from very different angles.
Overall, Girl in Snow was missing several integral components of an adult thriller, and I was disappointed by the confusing and poorly crafted conclusion. The novel was deceptively slow-paced, and none of the characters seemed particularly alarmed that a murderer was still on the loose. Instead, they frustratingly spent chapters upon chapters dredging up a slew of emotional reactions and recalling old memories rather than acting. I was searching for a heart-pounding read that kept me up until 3am, but unfortunately, Girl in Snow fell fairly short of my expectations.
|Plot & Premise|